At 1:13 p.m. today, San Diego kicked Oakland to the curb in the Los Angeles’ TV market.
Raiders’ viewers who already invested three hours into watching their team take a 35-31 lead at Buffalo with 27 seconds left were faced with this: The Bills approaching the line of scrimmage, third and 10 from the Raiders’ 15, about to take a shot at the end zone and possibly seize the lead.
Then a scroll came across the screen on the KCBS-Channel 2 coverage, and a voice said: “Due to contractual obligations, we now leave this game to bring you the start of your next scheduled game after these words from your local station.”
The scroll indicated we’d be going to San Diego’s game at New England.
“Obligated?” Yes, because, as we’ve seen in the past, the NFL-less Los Angeles is a secondary TV market to the neighbors to the south, the San Diego Chargers — meaning, we are force-fed Chargers games under league guidelines.
Why? Because, is all we’re told.
You thought 16 years later, after having no team in L.A., someday we’d have the picnic of getting the best games possible, and actually seeing the finish of one that we’d already decided to watch from the start at 10 a.m.?
Imagine if you’re the one at the switch having to make that call, knowing the backlash, but just following a lame rule.
Before the shotgun snap even took place with Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick calling signals, the swirling CBS logo came up, followed by a commercial for McDonald’s sausage McMuffins, one for a cell phone company, another for Nissan, one more for McDonald’s extra-value menu, a station promo the “CSI” season premiere, and then an areal shot of with Jim Nantz proclaiming: “Looking down at Gillette Stadium in Foxoboro, Mass. — Chargers, Patriots … hello friends.”
Nantz and Phil Simms bantered a bit, sized up the weather conditions, and eventually kickoff occured.
Meanwhile, back in Buffalo …
While we’re not obligated to tell you what happened with the end of Oakland-Buffalo, the scroll roll at the bottom of the screen said at 1:17 p.m. that Buffalo took a 37-35 lead with 14 seconds left. A minute later, CBS left the Chargers-Patriots game and went back to the New York studio where James Brown narrated the game-winning play: Fitzpatrick hitting tight end David Nelson on fourth-down to go ahead. The PAT made it 38-35.
Eight minutes later, the Chargers-Pats game was switched to the studio for the replay of the Raiders’ Hail Mary attempt to win, a pass intercepted in the end zone that could have been caught for a game-winning TD.
A KCBS-Channel 2 spokesman suggested we contact a CBS spokesperson. The network referred us to an NFL spokesman. The NFL offered neither an apology nor an offer to revisit the policy to see if it can altered in future weeks.
“Los Angeles is a secondary market for the Chargers,” said NFL TV spokesman Dan Masonson. “All secondary markets must carry in their entirety all road games of their local team.”
That’s all your obligated to say?
“We have nothing to add, that is the policy,” he said.
You can revisit the contract, right? You can admit this was a mistake and the rules of this could have been more flexable, correct?
At ESPN, the network policy is to stay until the end of the game, even if it means joining the next one late. Of course, ESPN can always direct viewers to another channel (ESPN2, Classic, etc.) to see the finish. NBC has directed people to its cable channel, Versus, when an NHL playoff game runs long.
What’s CBS’ options? Or Fox? Apparently with the NFL, it’s cut and dried. And their answer — then go pay $300-plus for DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket.”
But that completely misses the point.
“Heidi” and seek, my friends.
It may not have been as important as the so-called “Heidi Bowl” of 1968 (linked here) — when the Raiders’ comeback win over the N.Y. Jets wasn’t seen by NBC audiences because the start of the movie “Heidi” aired at 7 p.m. as scheduled.
And know this, Raider fan: If the roles were reversed, and the Chargers were coming down to the wire in a game, and your game was scheduled to come on next, the NFL would stay with the Chargers until it ended.
So maybe it was a public service, as it turned out, that you didn’t see how it ended. But you’d at least deserved that right.
Charge this one to our accounts should the Chargers officially move back to L.A. and really obligate us to watch their games.
And if it’s any consolation: NFL Network will replay the Raiders-Bills game Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT. Uninterrupted in the final 27 seconds.